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PRINT EXCLUSIVE: Loyal customers will miss 'Pets and Things' as it closes Sept. 1

Jul. 21, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Local rheumatologist Dr. Ralph Webb came home from out of town last week and headed to pick up his dog, Tattinger, from Pets and Things.

"I saw the signs up and had a sinking feeling in my heart," he said of the signs telling passersby that the business will be closing after 30 years. "Who's going to take care of my boy for me? Personally, it's a huge loss for me. I've always trusted them and felt comfortable with them taking care of my animals."

He's one of many loyal customers saddened last week at the news that the locally owned pet store at 1st Street and 8th Avenue is closing up shop. Owner Susan Adkins Davis said she has about five more years before retirement age, and would like a job she can leave at work at the end of the day.

"I've been in business since I was 24, and I'm getting to that age when I want something easier," she said. "Part of it was the economy. We were told years ago that freestanding Mom-and-Pops just weren't going to be around. We had a good 30-year run. We're seeing second and third generations of devoted customers."

She founded the company with her late husband, Dave Adkins, 33 years ago as D & S Aquarium Supply, which was a mail order business they ran from their home. In 1984, they opened Pets and Things in Guyandotte and three years later, moved it to the current location. There was a second store in the Eastern Heights shopping center for four years in the 1990s, but that closed about 15 years ago.

Over the years it's sold all the usual domestic pets -- dogs, cats, smaller furry critters, birds, fish, snakes, turtles and more, along with supplies for the animals, clothing and other odds and ends. It also does grooming and boarding.

Dave Adkins passed away seven years ago after a battle with cancer, and today, Pets and Things has has three full-time employees other than Davis herself.

It's provided jobs for many family members, friends and neighborhood kids through the years, she said.

This business "has been so good to different members of our family and friends when they were out of work," Davis said. "The pet store was here to get them to their next job. My kids, Mandy and David Alan -- they both grew up in this store. They were 3 and 6 years old, running the register."

Neighborhood children have worked there, or donated hours there to pay for merchandise or get community service hours.

"It's bittersweet and personal, but once I made the decision, I'm OK with it," Davis said.

Vickie Seguin of Huntington is wondering if her dogs will be OK with it.

"We've been doing business with them for over 25 years," she said. "Our dogs love to go down there. When you put them in the car and go by there and don't stop, they whine and cry. If any animal is that happy to go somewhere, you know they're treating them awfully well. They've been so good to us throughout the years and to our animals. I hate to see them go."

Davis said the building belongs to the neighboring business, Superior Office Service next door. Its owners, Betty Ballard and her late husband, Harry Ballard, were wonderful mentors, she said. That company may use the space for storage, Davis said.